The UW Chevron

online version of uwaterloo's independent press

Category: Volume 1

Letters to the Editor (Vol. 1 Issue 3)

Re: Oct. 4th CSIS article:

This bit is paranoid and simplistic at best. I am a full supporter of Wikileaks, Manning and Snowden, and am against being monitored in any capacity, but this article does none of these people or organizations any justice.

A government branch, CSIS, is high-tech, and is competing for new recruits in a competitive field, UW being one of the best CS schools around its only natural they’re looking to hire here. Period. These paranoid ramblings of feds being in on something with them are baseless. Thanks for the lunchtime read (in EV1). Looking forward to another.

Corey Pembleton

Send letters to the editor to theuwchevron@gmail.com.

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Democracy found alive in Feds meeting

Author: Thomas Little

For those of you who did not go to the Feds meeting, or were not there for the full length, here’s a recap of the events that happened as faithfully recorded by Chevron writers present at the meeting. Any corrections
or disputes should be sent to our editorial email.

The meeting was chaired by David Collins (Federation of Students, President), with Sean Hunt (Senator-at-Large) advising. The agenda was: approval of the agenda, approval of the minutes from previous meetings, elections to the Feds Board of Directors, approval of the auditors’ report, review of Feds’ financial statement, a motion to modify the voting system used in Feds elections, a motion to reduce the Feds fee, and a motion to initiate a referendum to defund the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG). Read the rest of this entry »

Fall Reading Week?

Author: Aidan Coward

Many Ontario universities have a fall reading break after midterms as part of their fall academic calendar. These schools include McMaster, the University of Toronto, and Western. According to Metro News, the University of Waterloo has examined it as an option in 2011. However the university and Feds declined to implement it.

For first years, the change from high school is significant. The often-reduced class time and increased autonomy is a big difference from secondary school. More information is covered in less time, and there are less opportunities to gauge academic progress. If one falls behind, there are no professional development/activity days to spend catching up. Read the rest of this entry »

The Feds GM: A Good Beginning

Author: The Editorial Collective

On Monday, October 28th, the Federation of Students had the second-largest general meeting in its history with over 580 students participating either in person or by proxy. This represents close to 2% (around 1.7% to be more exact) of the undergraduate student body. While this number might seem small, it is in fact a very respectable turnout for a student union general membership meeting. Comparatively, turn out for Feds executive elections last year were around 8% of members while student councillors are often elected with votes numbering in the mere dozens. Read the rest of this entry »

New organization helps students deal with landlords, employers

Author: Thomas Little

A new organization has appeared in the com m unity that will be useful to some students: the Kitchener-Waterloo Solidarity Network. The solidarity network model, which has appeared throughout North America, originated in Seattle with Seattle Solidarity (“SeaSol”) and is based around the principle of people in the community helping each other get justice for stolen wages and rent deposits or other unfair actions by bosses and landlords. Solidarity networks work with the individual or group to help them figure out a strategy for dealing with the boss or landlord, often using picketing and informational leafleting to put pressure on them. Read the rest of this entry »

CSIS: A Smart Career Choice?

Author: Thomas Little

Fall term has brought a lot of new faces to UW. If you’ve been in the SLC in the past couple of weeks, you might have noticed a few significant ones if you could fight past the crowds – professionally-dressed people on banners emblazoned with “WANTED: IT PROFESSIONALS” and “CSIS. SMART CAREER CHOICE.” This may not seem like much. The SLC has been subject to blatant advertising before. But what is CSIS? Perhaps a tech startup or a manufacturing company?

CSIS recruitment banner

September 26, 2013: One of two CSIS banners hanging in the SLC.

Read the rest of this entry »

The SLC Vendor Gauntlet

Author: Ilya Kolesnikov

Having vendors in the SLC contributes to the abundance of choices for foods, and once in a while, on those very special days, an assortment of retro and renowned video games. The vendors have their tactics to lure you over, some benign, such as colourful advertisements, but others that I refer to as vendor harassment. Though some vendors seem to be passive and mind their own business, reading and waiting for customers, it has become an annoyance to walk through the SLC as a result of some aggressive sale techniques. For example and coincidentally, the day before I started to write this article, a friend was in the SLC food court and two CIBC representatives called out to him by his first name. I could tell that my friend didn’t know them, making the situation awkward. It was also evident that he had been approached by them before and that they were using information previously gained to pitch a bank plan to him. Smart sales tactic or creepy, intrusive behaviour in what is supposed to be a comfortable space for students?

Confederate flag

October 2, 2013: Flag vendor displays the Confederate flag, a symbol of slavery and racism, in the SLC. It was taken down after he was approached by multiple students who asked that it be removed.

Overcrowding is another problem posed by vendors, specifically during the first week of every semester, though it is becoming a year-round issue. A heavy volume of students is optimal for vendors. However it is tedious to maneuver around. The vendors must get their messages across resulting in awkward eye-contact or literally being stopped in your tracks. As a rule of thumb it is generally best to walk past vendors (who needs more credit card debt on top of your growing tuition debt?) though one can take the extreme of rerouting and avoidance of the area. Don’t let sale tactics get to your head. It doesn’t make you a bad or immoral person if you are not interested in what the vendor is soliciting. However if you are being harassed, state that you are not interested, or walk-away. To what extent are vendors allowed to market their products or services? Should there be more regulations placed on vendors on what they can or cannot do?

[Editor’s note: Have com ments or stories about vendors in the SLC? Email our editors at theuwchevron@gmail.com.]

This article appeared in Volume 1, Issue 2 of The Chevron on 4 October 2013.

Crossing the (pipe)line: Waterloo Region joins the fight against Line 9

Author: Kathryn Wettlaufer

Enbridge Energy Inc.’s Line 9 pipeline has been in the news a lot this summer due to fierce opposition which now includes the local campaign “Waterloo Region Against Line 9”. Across the country, there have been public demonstrations and direct actions, as well as a federal lawsuit recently launched against the Harper government over their restrictions to public participation in the National Energy Board hearings, which will decide whether to approve or deny phase II of the Line 9 project.

The resistance is set to continue this fall with the NEB hearings coming up in October. But what the heck is Line 9, anyway? And why should folks living and studying in Waterloo care about it? Here’s the issue in a nutshell.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Campus Surveilled Redux

Author: The Editorial Collective

Thomas Little’s article in this issue reminds us that while it seems to be a new thing for students to be directly and openly recruited into CSIS’s surveillance apparatus (Canadia’s spy agency), it’s not at all a new thing for students to be surveilled on campus. An article in Volume 1, Issue 4 of the previous version of the Chevron, entitled “A Campus Surveilled” and written under the appropriate pseudonym “Winston Smith”, asked the question: who is watching us? Back then in 2010, they estimated between 150 and 200 security cameras in public areas on campus. Today there are probably more.

At the end of several of our articles in this issue, we invite readers to email us with comments or suggestions. Do not take this as boilerplate or a token invitation – we read every email sent to us. One of the biggest problems with some current campus journalism is that it does not actually reflect what students are thinking about, nor does it talk about interesting things people don’t already know about – as our predecessor did. Does the topic of surveillance interest you? Other ideas we considered were additional articles on tuition or a discussion on student space for studying and socializing. If you see anything you think deserves being investigated and published here, or if you have any commentary on campus media, send us an email and we’ll respond. We want to hear from you.

This article appeared in Volume 1, Issue 2 of The Chevron on 4 October 2013.

Tuition is Too Damn High

Author: Thomas Little

The Ontario government sets a cap on how much universities can increase tuition per year. If it did not, universities would be free to demand whatever they wanted for tuition, with disastrous consequences for students. Before this year, the cap was five percent. For the 2013-2014 academic year, the cap has been lowered to three percent, which gives students a bit more financial breathing room. It seems the UW Board of Governors did not get the memo. On June 4, it raised tuition retroactively by roughly 3%, that is after students in the Spring/Summer term had already paid their fees. Two out of three student representatives voted against the increase, the sole exception being Sean Hunt. This took students by surprise and shocked and outraged most. Our campus media being what it is, no one had reported on the Board of Governors meeting, nor had anyone reported on the tuition increase itself until Imprint writers were tipped off about the anti-tuition protest which happened on June 11.

Senteced to Debt

June 11, 2013 – Students protesting the summer tuition hike sent a message
outside convocation about the impact of rising tuition.

Even then, the Imprint article (“Mid-term tuition increase sparks controversy”) put forward the same line as the CBC (“Retroactive tuition hike upsets U of W students”) and the Record (“UW students angry over retroactive fee increases”) articles, quoting Sean Hunt (Senator-at-Large) and Adam Garcia (Feds VP Education) extensively and creating a “narrative” for the situation that students are only upset about the timing, not the increase itself. This is something these papers can be comfortable with: a minor quibble with the administration’s conduct, easily fixed by them promising not to do it again. It is also a narrative that Feds and the administration are comfortable with.

Yet is it a narrative that most students are comfortable with? The majority of students we talked to complained not just about the bad timing, but about the increase itself – that the extra burden was unwelcome and difficult to deal with, regardless of the timing. Many students complained about the high cost of tuition regardless of the increase. This is not something Feds, the Imprint, or the administration are comfortable with because they all maintain the firm position that there is no option but to accept fee increases, and the only concession to students is that we be notified about them beforehand. Arguments for a tuition freeze or even for lower tuition fees are dismissed as “impractical” and “unrealistic.” Yet what could be more realistic when our fellow students in every other Canadian province get an education for a much lower cost?

Spring tuition protest

June 11, 2013 – Students gathered in the Arts Quad to protest the mid-term tuition hike.

To hopefully answer these questions, an information session held on June 20 in the SLC Great Hall aimed at exploring the issue, with a diverse panel of representatives from the Graduate Student Association (GSA), Feds (Adam Garcia), an international graduate student, and an international undergraduate student (to discuss the heightened impact on international students). Both Adam Garcia and the GSA representatives were quick to defend the administration at all costs and to make it clear that they were not prepared to meaningfully oppose the administration, despite Feds officially criticizing the tuition hike.

After this info session, I and other students angry about the tuition hike worked for days passing around a petition demanding that the administration reverse the fee. We had conversations with hundreds of people and they complained about the high cost, yet had few answers about how to deal with it. If we want to actually do something about these fee increases, we need student organizations that are prepared to do something about the issue and student media that will give us a real picture of the situation and what students think, not what it wants them to think.

This article appeared in Volume 1, Issue 1 of The Chevron on 5 September 2013.